This lusciously rich dish was packed with goodness; fresh creamed spinach- made with garlic and nutmeg- was tossed with parmigiano reggiano and fontina, then topped with a mixture of fontina, pecorino romano, parmigiano reggiano, and panko and baked to a golden perfection, creating a hearty leafy center and a cheesey top layer to die for.
T: Looking at that picture makes me want to eat that cheesy top layer right off the top. the spinach is great and all, but… that cheesy top layer is looking pretty damn gorgeous.
A: that’s the cheesy top layer siren calling to you! tyyyyyyleeeer…. doooon’t yoooouuuuu waaaaant toooooo come and eeeeeeeaaaat meeee?
T: yes. stop calling me. I can’t have you. For the record, we ate this a while back with our Thanksgiving meal, but it’s still relevant today. This is great any day of the year. I’ll have words with anyone who disagrees.
A: and they had best watch out, because my pepita brittle will go there. you know what i mean…
amanda snaps her hand in a Z in front of her
T: i will also have words with anyone who calls me Pepita Brittle. Pepita Brittle is a mediocre form of a mediocre-to-begin-with candy. It is not a name for a man like myself.
A: now what if i was saying that you were mediocre like the brittle? eh?
T: then you can say, “tyler, you’re a really mediocre guy in prety much every way.” And I would say, “up yours.” That would be fine, but it is not fine to call me pepita anything or anything brittle.
A: oh my little pepita brittle! i don’t think you’re mediocre at all! you’re quite exquisite! just like good pepita brittle….. my pepita brittle.
T: (to self) just ignore it and it will go away. just ignore it and it will go away…
A: HA! that’s what you think! okay pepbrit (that’s pepita brittle for short) lets focus back on that ooooey gooooey cheeeeesey top layer and the creamy rich spinach that lies beneath!
T: Let’s do that, Kandy (mandy with a k).
A: uh… dude. that doesn’t even make sense! pepbrit, you must be mixed up.
T: names evolve. I’m calling you Kandy now. Anyway, that spinach was damn good. As I recall it was one of my favorite parts of our meal, every part of which kicked ass, so I’ll give it a 4.65/5. I hope you make it again soon!
A: but of course! it’s not the first time i’ve made it for us, nor will it be the last… although since you’re leaving me for xmas it won’t be anytime soon…. i also really recall this being way up there on my list of turkey-day favs. I’m gonna have to give it a 4.7/5. seriously… what’s not to like about a side dish with spinach, garlic, nutmeg, three types of cheese, cream…. panko! yuuuuuuumalicious.
T: woah, watch out Rachael Ray! Kandy’s in town, and she’s shouting yuumalicous! Alright, seriously, I can’t go on calling you Kandy forever. But it’s fun for this post.
A: i, however, can go on calling you pepita brittle for the rest of our lives! (and don’t even think that i’m not gonna whip your ass, son, for calling me kandy! or comparing my words to rachael ray’s!)
T: i’d like to see that. (the latter of the 2 threats, anyway).
A: dude. you needn’t forget that you’re currently an invalid! it would take very little for me to do some damage but you know i would never really hurt you… just rough you up a bit.
T: that’s fine. I heal quickly (not unlike the Karate Kid), and in the mean time, I will have a sweet little Mandy/Kandy waiting on me hand and foot!!
2 10oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground or grated
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
1/2 cup pecorino romano, freshly grated
2/3 cup fontina, shredded
2/3 cup panko
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a glass or ceramic loaf pan. Mix together all of the different cheeses. Set cheese mixture aside for later. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has melted and the oils are hot, add the shallot and garlic to the pan. Sweat the shallot and garlic for 4-5 minutes. Do not allow any caramelization, if they start to brown, reduce heat. Add the heavy cream and nutmeg to the pan and raise the heat to medium-high. Allow mixture to reduce for about 5-6 minutes. While the cream is reducing, place the thawed spinach into a clean dish towel and ring out as much of the water as you can. Add the spinach, nutmeg, and 1/2 of cheese mixture to the reduced cream. Stir to combine, then taste the creamed spinach. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Pour the creamed spinach into the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese mixture evenly over the top of the spinach, then do the same with the panko. Bake the gratin at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the cheesey top layer is melty and golden. Serve hot. Enjoy!